As seasonal residents return north and tourism winds down, many businesses make one of two major marketing mistakes. They either don’t change their marketing approach, or they eliminate marketing entirely. Avoid these mistakes and become aware of the opportunities presented by the summer slowdown to boost your business year-round.

Understand the big picture
The most common mistake businesses make is to halt all marketing efforts during the slower summer months. At the very least, you should be evaluating your marketing efforts from the previous season and planning for the upcoming season. Summer is a great time to take a step back and gain a clear understanding of the big picture. What worked for you this season? What worked for your competitors? Are there new tactics you should try next year? Consider doing a summer market research project to aid your planning for 2011.

Don’t cut the budget
There is a strong argument to be made for keeping your brand top-of-mind during summer months, whether you get an immediate boost in business or not. You can even do this with out-of-town customers easily and cost effectively through e-mail marketing and social media. Of course, if you’re competing for local customers during the summer months it’s absolutely essential to continue your marketing efforts to capture market share. Just be sure summer marketing efforts are highly targeted for the greatest cost efficiency. Those who continue to advertise during the summer months will stand out easily since other advertisers have dropped out entirely for the summer months. There is simply less “noise” and competition for people’s attention.

Avoid a “scattergun” approach
Even in the summer months, some businesses still employ a “scattergun” approach to marketing, placing ads anywhere and everywhere with catchall messaging that doesn’t speak to anyone in an effort to speak to everyone. In most cases, the target market should be more carefully defined. You can more effectively compete for summer business by understanding the demographics and characteristics of the year-round residents who remain in Southwest Florida and continue to be active customers. Focus on them with the appropriate media and message. This strategy may be applied to seasonal marketing efforts as well. The “scattergun” approach is rarely the most efficient one, any time of year.

Build your network
If your business slows down during the summer months, see this circumstance for the opportunity it is. Spend your time wisely by employing high-touch strategies such as networking to reconnect and enhance relationships with referral sources such as vendors. In addition to developing relationships within your industry, reach out to the community. Engage in summer public service projects while you and your staff have time. Start with nonprofits that are experiencing a decrease in summer volunteers. If the high touch approach doesn’t suit your business, you can still use this time effectively by updating your contacts and mailing lists to get them ready for next season’s promotions.

Invest in your marketing “infrastructure”
Another benefit of summer slowdown is the opportunity to “renovate” your marketing tools. If you’ve ever visited Disney during the scorching summer months, you probably got a great deal on tickets. Once you arrived you also noticed many rides under renovation. The timing is far from coincidental, and you should be making the same infrastructure investments during the summer months when traffic is lighter. Give your office or store a facelift, or revamp your website. Now is a great time to invest in new tools such as a blog so you can test these new technologies and tactics.

Get proactive to save time and money
Finally, think about what you can do ahead of time to avoid the last-minute rush in creating your seasonal marketing plan. Draft blog posts surrounding seasonal events now with plans to “tweak” them prior to posting. Create a budget, filling in as many line items as possible in advance. Take photography and draft key messages to facilitate creative campaign development when it becomes necessary. Schedule a meeting with Priority Marketing now to discuss what can be done prior to the pre-season rush to your ensure year-round success.

What are your summer marketing plans? We’d love to hear them, along with your thoughts on these tips!